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20 Jahre Tatort – Straßen der Welt e.V.

20 Jahre Tatort – Straßen der Welt e.V.

20 Jahre Tatort – Straßen der Welt e.V.

17.07.2019 Reflections by Francis B. Bermido Jr., - Defending the Defenders of Children's Rights

The enemies of child rights defenders in the Philippines are active and aggressive. They are like a sex mafia. They are afraid that evidence of child abuse will emerge against them in the Philippines or in the United States. They fear that Preda Foundation headed by Father Shay Cullen, a child rights campaigner and defender, will succeed to bring charges against them in court.  

Ever since Preda social workers rescued many children from the sex bars and hotels in Calapandayan, Subic in 2013 and received child victims of sexual exploitation in Mabalacat and Angeles City in 2019, the sex mafia has increased their attacks. They have filed baseless complaints with the prosecutors and government authorities and tried to turn government officials against the work of Preda Foundation and vilify Father Shay Cullen. Their aim is to try to damage, without success, the good name of Preda Foundation and the reputation of Father Shay Cullen, its founder and president.

Preda has countered these complaints with the truth, transparency and strong evidence to defeat and expose the malicious actions against the children and the staff of the Preda homes for abused children. Yet their attempts can spread false and fake news on blogs that can influence unwary readers and surfers of Facebook.  

There is nothing new in this. Since 1982, when Father Shay first exposed US Navy pedophiles and local men sexually exploiting children as young as nine years old, the local authorities in Olongapo City of the time denounced Fr. Shay Cullen. They tried to vilify his name and close the Preda home for youth and deport him from the Philippines. 

Fr. Shay took a stand, fought for his rights and the children and in effect brought Daniel Dougherty, the US national who abused Filipino children, to trial in Guam where he had fled. It was there where he was convicted.

 The Preda Foundation and Fr. Shay then began a campaign to close the US military bases in the Philippines and it succeeded in 1992. He and the Preda Foundation social workers and team campaigned against sex tourism and child abuse ever since that time bringing hundreds of child abusers to trial. This has earned the ire and anger of the sex mafia composed of sex bar owners and their friends and customers. 

One US national, call him Mr. K, a friend and supporter of the convicted child sex abuser and exploiter US national Arthur Benjamin, went so far as to pay a star witness to retract her testimony to save Benjamin. It failed miserably and Benjamin was convicted. This supporter and collaborator of Benjamin went on to defame Fr. Shay Cullen by making false allegations by phone to the Columban Fathers, saying Father Shay had coerced a rescued child to testify against Benjamin.  

This was absolutely proven false when the child told the Columban Fathers that she was rescued by Preda and government social workers and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) from a sex bar run by Benjamin. She said she was supported in the Preda home for exploited and sexually abused girls. She won her case against Benjamin and has a new life. You can view the story as reported by ABC News on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xRCk8Ni-cs and the documentary Children of the Sex Trade https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34XihiVaX_o 

The same Mr. K also made a baseless complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against the Preda Foundation. The SEC is the government agency that has jurisdiction and supervision over all corporations including non-stock, non-profit corporations such as the Preda Foundation. He lied to them in a letter that said he was a donor of the Preda Foundation and that it was not a real charity helping children. The SEC, according to law, had to conduct a visit to the Preda home for abused children to verify the complaint.  

What the officials found during their visit amazed them. They witnessed two beautiful homes caring for children. They met the adequate professional staff and saw a well-organized project helping as many as over one hundred children at the time of their visit. They saw the truth and realized that they had been lied to by Mr. K. The SEC then dismissed outright the false complaint and issued to Preda a clear and unequivocal clearance to say it was complying with all the regulations of the SEC. 

Five years ago, Preda social workers discovered the dangerous conditions suffered by five little children, the youngest a six-month old baby, in the house of US national Lilian May Zimmer in Subic and as required by law reported it to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The DSWD, together with the NBI, then rescued the children and filed criminal charges against Zimmer. The children were neglected and they were found to be sexually abused while in Zimmer’s custody. One seven-year old boy told a government psychologist that Zimmer invited a man into her house and this man sexually molested him in a shower and took pictures of him naked. The little girls said Zimmer brought them to beach parties held by foreigners and they held and played with them. The judge mysteriously dismissed the case against Zimmer by saying in his judgment that the rescue of the children by the DSWD was illegal and should have been with an arrest warrant. Zimmer immediately fled to the United States despite a still pending arrest warrant for her on other charges for assaulting persons in authority. 

Preda is very active in bringing to justice child abusers like Arthur Benjamin, Douglas Slade , Lilian May Zimmer and others including many Filipino abusers. In 2018, Preda took into custody two children who said they were trafficked and sexually exploited by US national Edward Rofheart. The children, with the assistance of the Preda social worker, filed criminal charges against Rofheart and his accomplice who is now in jail. Edward Rofheart now has arrest warrants against him issued by courts in Angeles City and he is in hiding and allegedly supporting efforts to abduct the child witness from Preda to have the cases against him dismissed. A few weeks ago, relatives of the child and of the accused trafficker tried to abduct the child witness when she was participating in a sport parade. The attempt, caught on barangay CCTV, failed when Preda social workers intervened and protected the child. Criminal charges of grave coercion have been filed against the alleged abductors. 

Also in 2018, another US national and a member of the sex mafia filed with the prosecutor in Olongapo City two baseless complaints against Fr. Shay Cullen. One complaint was for libel and one for subversion about something that Fr. Shay Cullen wrote in his column in The Manila Times in defense of children’s rights and their defenders. These complaints were both dismissed outright by the prosecutor. Over the past twenty years, as many as 52 complaints were filed against Fr. Shay and other Preda staff. Most of the complaints were of libel and slander, one of kidnapping, and one child abuse.  All were proven to be false, malicious, unfounded and unjust and dismissed categorically and with finality. However, the sex mafia continues trying to vilify and defame Father Shay Cullen and Preda Foundation by posting online and social media that the historical complaints had been made but they don’t say that they were all dismissed as baseless and malicious and Fr. Shay Cullen was exonerated.  The court documents dismissing the complaints are found on www.preda.org/legal.

 

In past years, Preda Foundation protected many children and empowered them through therapy to tell their story in court. These children in the care of Preda won many cases. In 2018 alone, the children in Preda’s care won a total of 18 court cases against their rapists and abusers, almost all got life sentences in prison. In 2019, there are already nine convictions won and more to come. The Preda Foundation is relentless in defending children and bringing their abusers to justice.